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The Excel Program

The Excel Program Excel is the flagship program of the nonprofit Growth and Development Services (GDS).

Growth & Development Services, Inc., (GDS) is a 501(c)3, nonprofit organization. GDS and The Excel Program were created to provide essential services for teens and families that are challenged by emotional, behavioral, and social issues. GDS programs equip clients with the tools they need to excel and the opportunity to reach their potential! Our participants have improved their mental health, social behavior, and academic standings.

Growth & Development Services, Inc., (GDS) is a 501(c)3, nonprofit organization. GDS and The Excel Program were created to provide essential services for teens and families that are challenged by emotional, behavioral, and social issues. GDS programs equip clients with the tools they need to excel and the opportunity to reach their potential! Our participants have improved their mental health, social behavior, and academic standings.

Operating as usual

Call or text 988 if you need support.
12/17/2022
Youth

Call or text 988 if you need support.

Su***de is the second leading cause of death for young people between 10 to 24. Sometimes it feels as though your struggle is being underestimated by your age. But we hear you, and help is available.

Youth Engaging Seniors (YES)
12/04/2022
Youth Engaging Seniors (YES)

Youth Engaging Seniors (YES)

Youth Engaging Seniors (YES)-Intergenerational music and life stories. Inner-city youth and Elders with Dementia helping each-other Reach their Potential!

This incredible event, the Music and Health Fair at Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center kicked off Excel's newest partner...
12/04/2022
Hope thru GDS, Music and Health Fair!

This incredible event, the Music and Health Fair at Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center kicked off Excel's newest partnership and collaboration, HOPE thru GDS! HOPE, Helping Our People Evolve Inc is a new non-profit, community-based organization, whose leaders have been in the community for decades. Our goal is to leverage both organizations' success and provide mental health, leadership development, arts, wellness, educational and intergenerational programs. We partner with several other local organizations to provide a holistic model for Health and Wellness. Contact me or Lenishe to get join our Movement!

12/04/2022

Inhisname United Inc.14th Annual Holiday Toy Drive Drop Off Location. Thank you for your generosity.
Please feel free to Share!
www.inhisnameunited.org/donate

Inhisname United Inc. Lugar de entrega de la 14.ª colecta anual de juguetes festivos. Gracias por tu generosidad.
¡Por favor siéntase libre de compartir!
www.inhisnameunited.org/donate

www.excelgds.org
11/26/2022
Home - Growth Development Services

www.excelgds.org

Growth and Development Services Since 1996, empowering New York City youth who face social injustice, family instability, and mental health challenges to Reach Their Potential.   Become A SponsorMake A Donation Our Mission The mission of Growth and Development Services, Inc. (GDS) is to empower und...

Gratitude to Helping Our People Evolve Inc!
11/24/2022

Gratitude to Helping Our People Evolve Inc!

Join us as we celebrate dance and wellness in our community.
11/19/2022

Join us as we celebrate dance and wellness in our community.

Youth Engaging Seniors (YES!) continues this Fall with HOPE thru GDS with . Bringing youth and elders together with the ...
11/16/2022

Youth Engaging Seniors (YES!) continues this Fall with HOPE thru GDS with . Bringing youth and elders together with the powerful benefits of music. Special thanks to for joining us and helping bring out more smiles!

Join us as we celebrate our community with Music and tools to thrive!
11/08/2022

Join us as we celebrate our community with Music and tools to thrive!

11/07/2022

Hear their Voices!

11/07/2022

Hear their Voices!

11/07/2022

Hear their Voices!

11/05/2022

YES!
10/20/2022
Youth Engaging Seniors (YES)

YES!

Growth and Development Services (GDS) latest initiative, Youth Engaging Seniors (YES) is an intergenerational program that awakens the joyful memories of sen...

Timeline photos
10/09/2022

Timeline photos

Dr. Gary and His ExcelGDS Family are on the move to stamp out mental disparities in communities of color.
M-Diddy

Join us to promote  with GDS, for more information or to RSVP contact LLopez@excelgds.org...
09/19/2022

Join us to promote with GDS, for more information or to RSVP contact [email protected]
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GDS’ participants spoke about the issues within their communities that they are passionate about. Stay tuned to hear mor...
09/19/2022

GDS’ participants spoke about the issues within their communities that they are passionate about. Stay tuned to hear more from the youth in our Excel Talks.
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09/14/2022

Peace in the Heights- Hear their Voices!

We need Peace in our city, country, and world. Join us virtually as we promote wellness and peace in our community. This summer participants in GDS' Leaders for Change program presented on important issues in our community. They discussed and brainstormed solutions to concerns about mental health, racism, and social injustice.

One participant spoke about the fear of gun violence, she said “This is an important problem because a simple argument or fight can escalate to a court case, and it can happen to you as it did to so many people." Taliyah spoke up about mental health services, she said “People deserve the opportunity to get the help they need.”

At our Peace and Wellness Event, we will hear their voices and review our solutions to community issues. Let's work together to Reach our Potential!

08/08/2022



We are here - the artists, thinkers, and leaders. by Maury Ayora

A few months ago, on a crisp, sunny August day, I found myself at a park in Queens pushing through the wind on four wheels - skidding hot pavement, floating over gaps and swerving into transitions. A moment where the world and its plethora of anxieties just seemed to halt. A moment where the universe allows you a breather, as its own, all encompassing breath, slips through every crevice and strand of hair on your body. I'm sure you've had a few of those. And precious, they so very are. These are moments that we as humans need. Rarely though, are we afforded this privilege.
The park sat underneath a bridge by the Hudson River. I took a seat to the side and after my heart resumed its metronomic groove, my place in the world came back to flood the banks of my thoughts. The following day I was to board a plane for San Diego and walk my sister down the aisle. The next month I was to start my first semester in college, something long overdue. Life was falling into place for the first time in what seemed a very long while.
But life has a way of making sure you are always on your toes. It seeks validation for its effort in giving you the chance to achieve your dreams, should you have them. A dream itself is the basis of all hope. And hope is the reason we get up each morning. That day I was to find out how much I really wanted to stand my ground here on earth, with all the vast opportunities and wonder it offers to each of us. I got into an accident. One that took some physical capability away from me, but couldn’t take the more important root of hope.
There is a reason, that in the face of overwhelming circumstances or occurrences we brave face and hold onto better times. We either believe in ourselves or have others that do so on our behalf. It so important - to have someone on your side. Through that very difficult time I knew that there were others who had my back. Both before, during and after. That is a blanket of security, hope and love. I consider myself fortunate to find myself underneath that blanket. It is one woven by family, friends and our community. For me, part of this blanket has been programs such as GDS.
Weeks later, I am sitting in an auditorium celebrating the 20th anniversary of GDS. Growth and Development Services (GDS) is a community-based agency founded 20 years ago by Dr. Gary Altheim - a man who’s life has been devoted to providing counseling, workshops and camp to youth in poor communities. GDS seeks to alter the very circumstances of youth much like me. To provide them with the necessary skills, counseling, and other tools youth in Washington Heights lack with regards to school curriculum, parental negligence, and overall impoverished conditions. As I sat in my seat, listening to the poetry, testimonials and presentations this group of summer youth worked on, I reflected on my own experiences with the program and felt similar resonation with regards to feelings of hope, opportunity, and resilience.
A single parent household is unfortunately not an uncommon experience for much of those in my neighborhood. I remember scrapping quarters together to afford groceries. Running home if it was dark as the streets were prone to violence after hours. Poverty and fear go hand in hand in neighborhoods like these and it affects all aspects of the lives of those who grow up in its crushing constraints. I was thrown about different family members households throughout my childhood as my mother struggled to pay for bills and achieve an education herself. This revolving door of responsibility left me without a place to truly call home. I suspect this is the case for much of my peers in the community.
In the sixth grade, my mother enrolled my sister andI into the services of GDS. At that time, GDS was a year long, homogenous program. It’s service to the community (and asDr Gary saw fit) was close to its angelic vision. Camp Excel, a weeklong retreat during the summer, was the highlight of its program. Camp Excel’s peer to peer workshops on mental wellness forged close relationships between the youth. The challenges of high ropes and other activities taught us how to work together, trust each other and most importantly - it gave us the release from our caged, myopic views of the world. We were given new insight as we woke up each morning in wooden cabins by a lake - a stark contrast to the gritty, boxed-in grid of uptown Manhattan. This was not some HR trip a Fortune 500 company organizes for its begrudging employees. This was much needed for me, my sister and the other youth. The best moment in my cache of memories at camp was when an older teen taught me a guitar riff that I performed at the end of camp celebration. The first time I played music for an audience. That teen who taught me (and forgive me for not remembering his name) was much like me. A slightly alternative kid who even in our harsh neighborhood, found himself an outsider. This here was a place kids like us could come together. This here was a place I could call home.
When camp was over, we were thrown back into the throes of Washington heights. A once a year retreat is unfortunately not quite enough for a constant escape. GDS is well aware of this and in its prime of operation, set up a year-long program for those who attended camp. It’s important also to stress that the relationships formed at camp encouraged us to reconnect and follow up with the Excel program throughout the year.
The youth had weekly workshops that centered on a variety of topics geared to provide us with the tools and information necessary to tread the harsh streets we walked each day. These workshops included drug awareness, sexual health awareness, and college readiness - amongst others. Social workers met with us once a week on our mental wellbeing and overall progress. Parents were encouraged to attend whenever they could. GDS put out all the stops to make sure that we were well looked after.
When you think of education and school, what comes to mind first is math, reading, writing, science. All very important, yet they lack education of self. This is where the parents become the teachers. Needless to say, we are not all blessed with the required set of parents to set us on our way to a prosperous life.This is even more the case in neighborhoods like Washington Heights. There are countless kids stuck in these circumstances and for them, programs like GDS are a necessity. It is a not a substitute for parenting, but when the other option is education by the streets, things start to come into perspective. In a way, GDS counselors became excellent surrogate mentors for us, the attending youth.
As I sat in that auditorium reflecting on all of those wonderful experiences, I was also struck by crushing disappointment. At its 20th anniversary, GDS was not operating at the level of influence it deserves. Funding was low, willful blindness was high and the outlook of its progression was unclear. I was worried about the livelihood of the program and so I approached Dr Gary and asked him about the future of the agency he created.Dr. Gary told me that GDS is indeed reviving and thriving. After a few tough years of bureaucratic, David and Goliath type struggles, GDS secured its space at the Armory in the heights - a massive victory. In light of this, he also said that old and new volunteers were needed to support GDS’s 20th anniversary and campaign.
That brings us to me, an alumni of the program who wants to give back to a program that helped me personally so much. But my story is just but one. My own sister, another alumna, is a teacher in California who would also attest to GDS’s influence on her personal life trajectory
Despite all of the adversities typically associated with non-profits, GDS survived and secured its home at the Armory. For a few tough years, “Reaching Your Potential” (GDS’s campaign slogan and program model) had been sadly underrepresented. Yet this is a program that simply must not go away. In fact, its proven track record should be more than enough for it to continue it’s great work. GDS at its peak had Camp Excel as an annual retreat. Camp Excel was crucial in forging close relationships between the staff and youth - encouraging them to return throughout the year for its ongoing, weekly workshops. These are some of the programs we need to bring back and improve on in our mission of community progression.
My personal experience, knowledge of the challenges of our community, in conjunction with awareness of GDS’s positive influence on the community, has led me to become part of the team. As a youth who grew up in Washington Heights and saw how GDS had such tremendous influence on myself and my peers, I am greatly encouraged to give back, to continue reaching my potential and help other youth do the same through the power of writing, blogging and community advocating. I hope you can join me on this deeply valuable and important journey!
And so, I ask you to consider this: think of the writers, artists, teachers and other valuable members of society who’s seeds are planted in Washington heights. Think of their dreams to blossom and become a burgeoning forest of prosperity through weeds of grit and poverty. These seeds need your help. Help us relaunch the “Reach Your Potential” movement, a grassroots campaign that stands for all of what GDS is about. Youth empowerment, awareness and progression. Talk to your children’s schools, community leaders, potential supporters or anyone else on how we can equip this great community with the tools its budding cast of potential artists and leaders need to prosper. Share our stories and events on your social media. Give us ideas on other ways to help the youth in our community. Most important, become part of the Reach Your Potential movement in any capacity. The flourishment of our community, Washington Heights and Inwood, depends on our youth. Let’s finally equip them with the tools they need to succeed. To Reach Their Potential!

We are here - the artists, thinkers and leaders of Washington Heights’ youth and we need programs like GDS to help us excel. This has been part of my story. I look forward to sharing more of them as well as hearing some of yours. Please stay tuned for further blogs!

Thank you.

GDS is celebrating 25 years of Reaching Our Potential all year long. Join us this Thursday August 4th to celebrate with ...
07/30/2022

GDS is celebrating 25 years of Reaching Our Potential all year long. Join us this Thursday August 4th to celebrate with us and to get a chance to win 2 tickets (Legend Suite) for a New York Yankees VS Toronto Blue Jays game (the game will take place August 19th at 7pm). Go to the Link in Bio to purchase entry ticket/entry raffle or to donate!
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#nonprofitcelebration

Leaders for Change is currently working with new 2 new groups of youth this summer in our SYEP 2022.
07/27/2022
Leaders for Change - Empowering youth to Thrive 💪

Leaders for Change is currently working with new 2 new groups of youth this summer in our SYEP 2022.

In the midst of COVID-19 and social unrest, feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety have accelerated in prevalence across the world. Seeing the challe...

Join us on August 4th for our 25 Years of Excellence Summer Celebration! Contact llopez@excelgds.org for more info.
07/27/2022

Join us on August 4th for our 25 Years of Excellence Summer Celebration! Contact [email protected] for more info.

07/24/2022

The two cannot be separated, the mind is the body and the body is the mind. If our mental health suffers, so do our bodies and vice versa.

Of course they're connected!

It seems kinda ridiculous now to think that we have to even promote the mind-body connection and convince people that this is true. Pretty obvious when you think about it!

What goes on in our minds effects our bodies and what goes on in our bodies effects our minds. How could it not?

I hope you find some nuggets of deep peace today folks, you deserve it. And if you don't find peace for your mind, at least find some nuggets for your body 😂.

With love and admiration to all you courageous self-healers ❤️🙏.

Dani 😘😘😘
mytmsjourney.com

Leaders for Change, SYEP 2022!
07/21/2022

Leaders for Change, SYEP 2022!

Grateful to all who showed up for Mental Health and Healing Arts Event!
07/15/2022

Grateful to all who showed up for Mental Health and Healing Arts Event!

One of the causes of stress among the BIPOC community is racism. Structural and institutional racism forces groups of pe...
07/13/2022

One of the causes of stress among the BIPOC community is racism. Structural and institutional racism forces groups of people to be neglected and taken advantage of by the healthcare system, the criminal justice system, and many more influential systems. A lot of people in the BIPOC community faces these injustices on a daily basis, which causes an unhealthy amount of stress. It is important for the BIPOC community to receive mental health services to help relieve them of this stress and to create a safe space for them.

Join us for our virtual BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Event on July 14th at 5:30 pm!
Please RSVP to [email protected]

Don't forget to join us Thursday, July 14th for an open and safe discussion regarding .
07/12/2022

Don't forget to join us Thursday, July 14th for an open and safe discussion regarding .



July is BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month. Come Join us this Thursday, July 14th at 5:30pm via zoom for our virtual  e...
07/11/2022

July is BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month. Come Join us this Thursday, July 14th at 5:30pm via zoom for our virtual event!

Make sure to RSVP to [email protected]

Join us July 14th. We have created a safe space for open and honest dialogue to build connections while initiating posit...
07/11/2022

Join us July 14th. We have created a safe space for open and honest dialogue to build connections while initiating positive change.

Be sure to bring your favorite poem, song, or spoken word to share and express yourself.

Learn more: https://excelgds.org/bipoc-mental-health/






Mental Health America

We are EXCITED to share our NEW BIPOC Mental Health Coalition. Please join us on our July 14th Zoom call and bring your ...
07/08/2022

We are EXCITED to share our NEW BIPOC Mental Health Coalition. Please join us on our July 14th Zoom call and bring your favorite poem, music, or written word that best expresses you.

Sign up today: https://excelgds.org/bipoc-mental-health/







Address

3754 10th Avenue
New York, NY
10034

A, C, 1, 9 train

General information

Become a member of our team by joining the Excelathon; GDS' year-long campaign to educate individuals, families, and communities about our transformational work.

Opening Hours

Monday 9am - 7:30pm
Tuesday 9am - 7:30pm
Wednesday 9am - 7:30pm
Thursday 9am - 7:30pm
Friday 9am - 7:30pm

Telephone

+12127407040

Products

The Reach your Potential Model

Alerts

Be the first to know and let us send you an email when The Excel Program posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Contact The Business

Send a message to The Excel Program:

Videos

GDS and Dr. Gary Altheim- Finalist for Change Maker Awards

Dear Colleagues and Community Members,

We are excited to share that we have been nominated to receive the 2018 People’s Choice Award from the Child Mind Institute! The Child Mind Institute is a national, independent nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders. Their annual Change Maker Awards celebrate individuals and organizations who raise awareness and dispel stigma, help children and families directly, or work to transform the way we understand and treat mental health and learning disorders.

From among hundreds of organizations nominations for this recognition, we are proud to announce that we’ve been selected as a finalist for the People’s Choice Award. This recognition would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of our incredible team. Thank you and congratulations to us all!

The winner will be announced in early April and will receive the award at a ceremony hosted by NBC’s Cynthia McFadden in New York City on May 7. Other honorees that evening will include Activist Award winner, Glenn Close, the founder of Bring Change 2 Mind which promotes empathy and fights stigma; and Champion Award winner, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, whose platform includes prioritizing mental health research and early intervention.


Other Performing Arts in New York

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Comments

In the midst of COVID-19 and social unrest, feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety have accelerated in prevalence across the world. Seeing the challenges facing inner-city teens, Growth and Development Services (GDS) leveraged its past success and created a virtual program, Leaders for Change. This initiative empowers youth to reclaim their voice, gain confidence, and trains them to advocate for themselves, their peers, and their community.
In the words of a Youth Advocate.
So glad to have attended my first and very important community gathering.
Many issues in both politics and communities are happening all around us and so many programs are being taken away from people that have no idea they have full access to. Literally walking past this place never realizing what's available to them for free.
Don't let these programs be bullied out by bigger more political and corporate programs that have a narrative about the neighborhood they reside in.
Click on www.excelgds.org to find out more as we try to come together in what looks to be gds' final months.
On Tuesday, the Ohio State University and Generations United released an expansive survey http://gu.org/RESOURCES/PublicationLibrary/AllInTogether.aspx — the first in 20 years — of 180 intergenerational programs. With 39 percent of grandparents having a grandchild living more than 500 miles away, according to a study by Generations United and MetLife Mature Market Institute, these programs create new ways to foster intergenerational interaction.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” MLK Jr.
The original Camp Excel and Reach your Potential Model!
For Teens by Teens.
Sometimes I lay
Under the moon
And thank God I'm breathing
Then I pray
Don't take me soon
'Cause I am here for a reason

Sometimes in my tears I drown
But I never let it get me down
So when negativity surrounds
I know some day it'll all turn around because...

All my life I've been waiting for
I've been praying for
For the people to say
That we don't wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
One day

It's not about
Win or lose
'Cause we all lose
When they feed on the souls of the innocent
Blood-drenched pavement
Keep on moving though the waters stay raging

In this maze you can lose your way (your way)
It might drive you crazy but don't let it faze you, no way (no way)
Inspired by all of these incredible Change Makers! Thank you for raising awareness about mental health and all of the great work that you do to make the world a better place! Child Mind Institute
The original Camp Excel! Here's to 21 years of our Excellent Team. Thank you to Everyone. As I always said at Camp, there is NO weak link on the Team, we are all equal, leading side by side. Excelllllll, Reach Your Potential!
I voted for you Gary but I didn't see the Excel program?
We are very excited to be a Finalist for the prestigious Child Mind Institute's People’s Choice Award at the 2018 Change Maker Awards. Click on the Change Maker Awards link below and check off our leader Gary Altheim to Cast your vote. You can vote once a day until 3/23/18.
Let's level the playing field!
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Other Performing Arts in New York (show all)

Jeremy Siskind Page Lori Phillips, Dramatic Soprano WaHi Womanist Arts Festival Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company Concussion Comedy Washington Heights Choir School New York Conducting Institute ByStorm NYC Cia Teatral Fragal Inc Young Dancemakers Company Manhattan College Music & Theater Department The Art Song Preservation Society of NY Associated Music Teachers League Inc. - AMTL Escuadron Folclorico Dominicano Bitty Broadway